Welcome to Mondo Samu - Questions and Answers about my self-work.

Mondō: "questions and answers"; a recorded collection of dialogues between a pupil and teacher.
Samu: Work service; meditation in work.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Strength? Will-power? Choice.

I want to talk about something that has come up a lot for me lately. In fact it's the number one topic that has come up for me in my weight loss efforts. It's people thinking that I am "super-strong", or possessed of "incredible will-power" or such.

I'm not.

At work there's a woman who constantly exclaims "Gosh, you are SO strong! I could never do that!" when I refuse one of the daily pastry treats people bring in to snack on. One of my friends always says "Yeah, but you have tremendous will-power." And another friend told me, very sweetly, that I "more than anyone" she's "ever known" am able to "commit" to things once I make up my mind.

Well, while it's true that I am the type of person who once I make up my mind, I can be like a dog with a bone. It's also true that I weighed 349 pounds until a few months ago and have been overweight my entire life! While I definitely do not suffer from low self-esteem, and will be the first to say I am a strong person (see?), I have to say that I'm not as strong as everyone seems to think. I'm not super-powered. If I was so strong, then the weight would never have been a lifelong issue for me. So, I ponder - a lot - the idea of WHY has this weight loss and mindfulness change been relatively easy for me (so far)? Why AM I able to do it so easily?

There are a few reasons that this concerns me so much.
  1. I don't want others to think it will be a snap, if it's not and then feel bad that they aren't having the same results.
  2. I don't want any blog readers to "change the channel" because they think this information doesn't apply to them. ("Oh, that's just him…I can't do that")
  3. I just want to know why, after decades of not being able to resist food, I'm suddenly strong in this way. I assure you it's a mystery to me as well.
The one that really made me think I better address this whole issue was an email I was deeply honored to receive from one of the authors of "Savor", Dr. Lilian Cheung congratulating me on my success so far, and saying "The most exciting phenomena for us is to hear from you that it has not been a struggle." (an email I cherish and read now and then for a boost!). I had that on my mind when I started re-reading "Savor" for the third time. Even the book says that the change won't occur over-night.

But…for me…it did. There are changes I'm making nearly every day, but the important one - THE change - was simply a single decision. A choice I made. The choice to live mindfully. As "Savor" says:

"Attaining a healthy weight is your choice. And it is a practice, not an idea."

YOUR CHOICE! There is great power in that phrase…please read it again, and focus mindfully on that sentence before you go on.

"Attaining a healthy weight is your choice. And it is a practice, not an idea."

"Savor" starts out talking about the Four Noble Truths as they relate to weight loss. The first:

"The First Noble Truth: Being Overweight or Obese is Suffering"

Is all about identifying your suffering. Determining why you are overweight, how much, the patterns that got you here, the emotions that lead to your feelings about food, etc. It's about doing some serious soul searching. I think this part is very hard for anyone. For me, I had already been doing this for a very long time…about a year…before I finally found "Savor", so perhaps part of my seemingly overnight success is that I was very much aware of my suffering and ready to do something about it, I just didn't know what to do. So the decision I made happened instantly, but the thoughts and feelings that lead up to it had been going on for a much longer time.

The events I discussed previously that lead up to me reading "Savor", and subsequently all the weight loss, were a series of events and situations that kept adding up. Piling up is more accurate. They piled up, and piled up like the pounds did, until I knew that if I didn't make a change very soon, and VERY big, I would be in serious danger in several areas of my life.

I was very worried about my health, and my longevity. I was really afraid I might not be around for my daughter. Having lost my own father (who was obese, blind, diabetic and had cancer) when I was 18, I was keenly aware of my own chances of suffering a similar fate.

So, my friend was right about one thing…I am the type of person who sets my mind on something and doesn't give up. But weight control was the one area of my life I have never been able to manage correctly. That's why when I read "Savor" so much of it spoke deeply and directly to me with the message I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. It's not that it told me anything new - we all know these common sense things (eat less, exercise more), I think - it's something about how the authors expressed it and combined it with the idea…the imperative…to live in the present moment! Something about my state of mind when I read it. Whatever it was, the words made more sense, and hit closer to home, than any I have read before.

So, I guess what I want to make sure people take away from this blog first and formost, is that you CAN do this. You CAN make the choice. A choice is just a choice…simple as that. I can't promise it will be easy, and I hope it won't be hard.  I deeply hope for you that it is as natural as it has been for me, but what once you decide that you want to lose weight, I would suggest reading "Savor" and pay particular attention to the breathing work, to learn how to "come back to yourself".
If you can do this, then this ONE decision will make it infinitely easier to tackle all the other challenges that you will face.

"Attaining a healthy weight is your choice."

It's not strength.
It's not Will-Power.


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